RENO — It’s not often a softball team has every starter get a hit and an RBI in a game.
To do it within the first 12 batters of the game is almost unreal.
Yet, it’s exactly what Palo Verde accomplished in the opening round of the Division I state softball tournament Thursday.
The Panthers put the first 10 hitters on base, including a span of nine consecutive hits, and scored 10 first-inning runs on their way to an 18-1, five-inning thumping of Northern Region champion Reed at UNR’s Hixson Field.
Palo Verde (31-6) will face Foothill (21-13) in the winners’ bracket final at 2:30 p.m. Friday. The Falcons were 5-3 winners over Spanish Springs in the opening game.
“Nobody thinks that we should be here, and nobody thought we were going to get past (Reed),” Palo Verde coach Kelly Glass said. “They literally came out here wanting to prove everybody wrong.”
Kaitlyn Folkers had a two-out RBI single in the top of the first to give the Raiders (31-6) their only lead.
Kiley Harrison led off the bottom of the first with a walk, and Mackenzie McBride followed with a bunt single that landed just out of the reach of Reed third baseman Britni Greninger.
It started an avalanche. Eight more Panthers got hits. Breanna Beatty’s two-run double started a string of nine straight batters driving in a run.
Were it not for the Panthers choosing to courtesy run for catcher Brooke Stover, every starter would have scored in the first inning. Even Palo Verde’s first two outs produced runs.
“They came hungry,” Glass said. “We literally just relaxed and chilled, knowing that we were going to come out and do what we were supposed to do, and crush the ball was one thing they have been doing. It all just came together.”
And it came against a pitching staff with gaudy credentials.
Reed entered the game with a 1.39 team ERA and had allowed only 43 earned runs and 148 hits all year. The Raiders hadn’t given up more than seven runs in a game all year.
The Panthers finished with 17 hits, and all but one of their runs was earned.
Meanwhile, Rachel Williams was marvelous after allowing two hits and a walk in the first inning. Williams retired 12 of the final 13 hitters of the game and finished with a three-hitter and six strikeouts.
“She came harder,” Glass said. “My goal for her was to get better every inning on the mound, and she absolutely did that.”
Harrison was 3-for-3 with four runs and an RBI, and Melissa Lacro, Williams and Beatty each had two hits and three RBIs for Palo Verde, which has won 11 straight games.
Foothill 5, Spanish Springs 3 — Sarah Maddox went 3-for-3 with two doubles and an RBI, and the Falcons used a four-run third inning to collect their first victory in five trips to the state tournament.
“This is another first for Foothill; we hadn’t won a state tournament game,” Falcons coach Tom Mayes said. “We still have another goal, another first to get. Win the next one, and then see what happens.”
With the game tied 1-1, Hannah Stevens walked to lead off the third inning. Vanessa Parrales followed with an infield single before Kelsey McFarland’s RBI single to right put the Falcons ahead to stay.
Jordan Corn added a two-run single, and Maddox had a two-out RBI double in the inning.
The Cougars (28-8-1) threatened to rally in the fourth inning, loading the bases with no outs, but Foothill pitcher Sarah Penksa induced consecutive force outs at the plate, and allowed just one run in the inning.
Spanish Springs crept within 5-3 and loaded the bases with two outs in the seventh, but Penksa got Alyssa Batastini to pop out to third to end the game.
“These guys have always been kind of under a little bit of pressure, always trying to come back from something or trying to hold on,” Mayes said. “They’ve done a pretty good job of it.”
Penksa allowed seven hits and walked two, but stranded eight Cougar runners on base.
“She pitched the ball to where we were could get ground balls,” Mayes said.
Corn was 2-for-3 with two RBIs for Foothill, which lost twice to Palo Verde during the regular season.